Over the past 15 years, the European processing industry has gradually increased the availability of poultry meat in a large variety of processed ready-meals following what occurred few years before in North America. This shift towards further processed products has underscored the necessity for higher standards in poultry meat in order to improve sensory characteristics and functional properties. Poultry meat quality is a complex and multivariate property, which is affected by multiple interacting factors including genetics, feeding, husbandry, preslaughter handling, stunning and slaughter procedures, chilling, processing and storage conditions. However it is likely that the effects exerted by ante-mortem handling (feed withdrawal, catching, crating, transport and lairage) and slaughter (hanging, stunning, killing, scalding, plucking, evisceration, chilling and processing) conditions on final product quality may be greater than those attributable to variation in husbandry practises.. Many problems may occur at these stages that potentially increase the rate of mortality, carcass downgrading and meat quality. This paper is aimed at making a general statement of recent studies on the effects exerted by preslaughter handling and slaughtering on product quality.
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